A viewer who tuned into the Liverpool clash with Sevilla at the 30 minute mark would’ve been forgiven for thinking the game was already over: a Sadio Mané header found itself sandwiched between two close range strikes from Roberto Firmino to see the Reds run out to an astonishing 3-0 lead.
It was more impressive than the 2-0 lead in the first half of the same group stage fixture in September, talk less of the 1-0 margin Jürgen Klopp’s men started with in the 2015 Europa League final.
The final result however, was disturbingly, worryingly, frustratingly the same as the Spanish side again fought back from the deficit to draw 3-3:
The most obvious [explanation] is very good first half, not very good second half,” Klopp admitted in his post-match interview.
“We stopped playing football in the second half. When you’re the ‘winning’ team you should avoid it, and we didn’t. We came back and had our chances again, but we didn’t use them.
“It was absolutely OK that we were confident after that first half, but in two situations we were obviously too late.
The German manager withdrew Alberto Moreno along with Philippe Coutinho early in the second half after the former directly caused two of the goals.
“Not only Moreno [was at fault], the 50-year-old continued in defense of the full back. “The formation was too late in this situation. That’s obvious what we did. The real problem is we stopped playing football, we had to close the game; 3-0 is a wonderful result, but you have to stay in the game.
“Fifteen minutes is a long time, you can score 10 times if you want. We wanted to control it, but we got passive, a little bit too deep.
“They fought back, that’s a credit to them. We have to give it to them.”
“It feels like we lost, but we didn’t lose. It’s a point. There are two games to go [in the group], it’s in our own hands. But in the moment it feels really bad.”
The Reds had had a chance to cement their place at the top of Group E but now need to go to Spartak Moscow on December 6 with the possibility of not even making the knockout stage.